Long time since we’ve had a bourbon whiskey, and not just any bourbon – many people claim this is the pinnacle of American whiskey!
George T. Stagg is the flagship in Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection (Buffalo Trace distillery used to be called George T. Stagg distillery until 1999). Like the other four members of the collection, it is released in small, yearly batches and it’s one of the strongest whiskies I’ve ever come across (young Port Charlotte comes close though).
I’m reviewing the latest release, Fall 2011. It was aged for 18 years and 5 months in a combination of 124 barrels. Nearly 58% of the whiskey was lost in evaporation during the maturation.
George T. Stagg (71,3%, OB 2011)
Nose: a powerful boost of sweet vanilla / leather at first. Soon pencil shavings take over. Maple syrup and corn. Mint and pepper. Quite fruity as well, with cherries and sultanas. Tobacco. Oak polish. It’s very much “bound together”, there are lots of aromas but it comes across as quite compact and elegant.
Mouth: wow, like a fire in your mouth. Intense oak with charred flavours and lots of mint. Liquorice and pepper. Ginger and vanilla. Cocoa. A kind of bitter / sour combo. Plenty of oak really. Violet candy. Smoked cherries. Gets a little dry in the end. Takes water very well.
Finish: very long, dry and tannic, with charred notes, cinnamon and mint.
This knocks your socks off, not only because of its mere alcohol volume but because of its intense oak influence. Too dry and tannic to get a higher score, I’m afraid, especially when neat – if this were a Scotch whisky I would have deducted much more points for this. Anyway great fun to see it evolve while adding drops of water. A legend. Around € 120.